Yes, the TV Today Awards are still going on, and you’ve still got a chance to vote in all the categories! Today, we’re looking at the shows who didn’t get great audience figures, but should have done.
Suburban Shootout, Five/Paramount
Five’s twisted sitcom about rival housewife gangs in suburbia was bursting at the seams with great acting names, the humour was sharp, and it was quite unlike anything else on television (save for unfair comparisons with Desperate Housewives).
Not Going Out, BBC1
In an era where sitcoms tend to insist on location shooting and no laugh track, Not Going Out took the brave decision to use a more traditional studio-with-audience format. And the script was more traditional sitcom, too, with a setup-joke-setup-joke format that was actually quite pleasantly refreshing. Written by Andrew Collins and Lee Mack, who also starred, maybe its Friday evening slot worked against it.
The Family Man, BBC1
Trevor Eve’s fertility expert provided the pivot for a selection of stories about families who each had their own problems. Covering very topical ethical issues, The Family Man managed to do so without comprising the entertainment value of the best forms of drama.
The Virgin Queen, BBC1
Anne-Marie Duff’s portrayal of Elizabeth I was simply breathtaking. It was unfortunate that it came to our screens so soon after Helen Mirren’s own performance, but Paula Milne’s impressive screenplay provided captivating viewing for four weeks.
A sort of Clocking Off for postal workers, with each episode focussing one of a group of postmen, Sorted had a charm about it that was buoyed along by its great cast. With Neil Dudgeon and Dean Lennox Kelly leading the postal side, and able support from Tracy Ann Oberman and Nina Sosanya giving us tales of fractured lives, it looks like there’ll never be a second series.
Tripping Over, Five
A bold attempt at multinational commissioning, with stories set in London and Australia, Tripping Over fused an engaging set of characters with a great script — and for its trouble, got poor audiences. Overshadowed at the time by Dan Chambers’ departure from Five, it may be the channel’s last attempt at original drama for a while.
The State Within, BBC1
A densely-plotted tale of political intrigue, one of the BBC’s most ambitious dramas of the year maybe didn’t do itself any favours by leaving most of the audience scratching their heads in bewilderment at the end of episode one. Those who stuck with it, though, found their patience richly rewarded. Again, a second series is unlikely after the first’s poor ratings performance.
The Innocence Project, BBC1
Now, this is one of Mark’s suggestions, and while he’s off enjoying family shenanigans in Ireland, I’m left having to admit that I’m one of the many who didn’t see the first few episodes of this new legal drama. The concept of reopening old cases worked for Waking the Dead or New Tricks, so on paper exploring miscarriages of justice should work. Unfortunately, ratings have been less than stellar and so the second half of the first series has been delayed…
Most of the imported crime shows we get here in the UK originate from America. BBC4’s import, on the other hand, hails from France. A taut, intensely plotted thriller, it wasn’t just the subtitled dialogue that compelled you to watch every frame — the acting and cinematography was superb throughout. A BBC2 repeat in the New Year, please!
For those of us who revelled in Channel 4’s teen/twentysomething drama As If, this was like greeting an old friend. From the same production company, and reuniting Jemima Rooper and Paul Chequer, Sinchronicity also covered much the same ground — but, with a post-watershed slot, could do so more intensely. The dilemmas of all the sexual dynamics built up satisfyingly over the course of the series, leading to a series finale that ticked all the boxes.
Got your own opinion? Think we’ve missed somebody? Take part in the TV Today Awards, where you can vote on this and several other categories.